Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The World is Not Left-Handed

My Grandmother was left-handed, my aunt and so am I. I didn’t know any difference until I went to school, age 5. But my scissoring wasn’t on the lines and my Christmas stars didn’t come out as nice as the others. I was thirty five before I got my first pair of true left handed scissors, not just right handed scissors with left handed handles. A light went on and I could *see* the line I was supposed to cut for the first time. So THIS is how it’s done!

When I was 15 I took Driver’s Ed. I’m left side dominate as well; eye, ear, hand and leg so I asked the trainer if there was a car with the gas pedal on the left. He just looked at me strangely and didn’t answer. Come to think of it, the ignition is on the right too. That stinks.

I figured out I was different, but I didn’t think it warranted much thought. As time went on though, I started to realize what it must be like to live as a minority. Turns out only 7% of the world’s population is left-handed. No wonder I was considered clumsy or backward when doing things, I wasn't part of the majority. Tools and environments are not made for left-handers; we have to approach the world, interpret what’s there and adapt.

After college I worked in a packing and shipping warehouse. I remember clearly the day the floor stockman said, “Hey, what are you doing with that box cutter? You’re going to slice somebody if you hold it like that! Here let me show you how to do it.” The box cutter was symetrical, but he wanted me to do it right handed. If I had, I *would’ve* sliced somebody.

As far back as I can remember I’ve been told I’m doing things backwards. There’s an implication there that I soundly refute; not backwards, just reversed. My dish drainer is on the right hand side of the sink, the point of my ironing board is on the left, if you want to cut a slice of bread after I've cut a piece, the cut end of the loaf will be on the left, not the right. If you think about it from my point of view, it just makes sense.

It turns out that research supports the idea that Lefties are more artistic and better at abstract thinking than right-handers. It may be because they have to analyze, decipher, accommodate and respond to a non left handed world. My second son is left handed and I’m grateful he had a Leftie to teach him life skills as a small boy. When you watch a Leftie child struggle to unscrew the lid of a peanut butter jar you’ll know what I’m talking about. – Lefty loose-y, righty tighty becomes your friend, though I didn’t learn that one until I was almost 40.

I’ve told the story so many times I believe it’s true, though I can’t remember for sure, but in grade school the teacher was trying to help the class learn their left hand from their right. “Your right hand is the one you write with, your left is the one that’s left over.” That’s very clever and would be useful for remembering… but you see the problem.

But you know… I wouldn’t trade my left handedness for any other attribute I possess. Sure there are those that don't want to sit next to me at the dinner table ‘cause I might bump them with my elbow, but Lefties hand sew and quilt from left to right and that makes us really useful at a quilting frame. I may not do things just the way you would, but I’m more ambidextrous in general because I’ve learned to adapt. I'm a creative problem solver and I tend to think outside the box.

Next time you see a southpaw juggling packages at the door of a building with a right-handed handle, please help her through and don’t assume she couldn’t manage because she’s clumsy. And just for fun, try brushing your teeth with your left hand tonight. I bet it’ll feel real different.

Left-handed Persons in the Presidency


Fabricfaire said...

...I like you just the way you are!

frannapa1 said...

Hi Leslie,

I too, am left handed, and my first daughter is also, the other is right handed, my brother is a leftie, the other is a righty. my dad probably should have been left, but they trained him to be right, and he always had trouble walking straight, mom said he would veer to the left? I was the only lefty in high school tennis class, and what about checks; when you turn them over to endorse, you always have to turn them around; and how about cards you put in envelopes; they are reversed when you take them out. I knew we had something else in common! Love your quilts. You are really movin along! Fran

Anonymous said...

Oh! This post really touched a chord within me. I'm a lefty too and I totally hear what you're saying, sista! My family loves to point out the way I do things "backwards". Not a birthday goes by that someone doesn't open a card from me and joke about it being in backwards. I get just a little annoyed when people who have known me for years see me write something and say "I didn't know you were a lefty!". What, I'm supposed to wear a sign? LOL!
Here's the good news...sewing machines are better for lefties!

bingo~bonnie said...

what a neat post about you being a lefty ;) My oldest daughter Nora is 4 years old is a lefty... and she's doing better than I hoped in school so far. It helped that her Pre-K 4 teacher is also a lefty so it got her to holding her pencil the correct way form the get go :)

however cutting has taken lots of practice. right now the hardest part is teachin her to move the paper with her opposite hand while she cuts. When I get a catalog in the mail, I let her cut out "gifts" she wants to give Mamaw or Mimi and then we glue them onto papers and mail to grandparnets in KY ;) Gotta make homework fun right?

Love from Texas! ~bonnie